Now that the dust has settled over the introduction of Right to Rent checks, the smaller details of the rules are beginning to cause some concern.
We’ve just about got to grips with the idea of the initial check and the documents we’re required to keep, but what happens where all the checks are fine at the start of a tenancy, but the tenant’s status changes part way through it?
This is important because it brings us to the issue of follow-up checks, and there has been a deal of confusion as to whether you can be fined for making a mistake with these.
A summary of the rules
If a tenant has a time limit on their permission to stay in the UK, you must do a follow-up check.
This should be carried out just before whichever of these is the later date:
- The end of your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK
- 12 months after your previous check.
In effect, this is a time-limited statutory excuse, and providing you take the right action in response to your follow-up checks, you will avoid a penalty even if your tenant has no right to remain in the UK.
The follow-up check
Ask your tenant to provide evidence that they have the right to rent.
- If their right to rent is now unlimited, no more follow-up checks will be required.
- If their right to rent has been extended, further follow-up checks will be required using the dates as before.
- If they no longer have a right to rent, you must inform the Home Office as soon as possible.
Remember that both initial and follow-up checks apply to any adults using the property as their main home and not just to the tenant named on your agreement
Although the follow-up checks might seem painful, they shouldn’t be a problem. If your tenancy covers 12 months, for example, and you have seen evidence that someone has the right to remain in the UK for only part of that period, you need do nothing until just before the tenancy expires. You don’t have to start trying to evict your tenant, for example.
Here’s the important thing to note:
You won’t face a penalty for having a tenant whose time-limited status has expired if your follow-up check isn’t yet due.
But if the follow-up check shows up a problem and you don’t report it, you could be fined or face up to 5 years in prison. Ouch!
A clear case for writing a few dates in the diary and keeping on top of your admin?
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